Bisping: Grappling Loss Shows Why Rose Namajunas Was “Timid” Against Carla Esparza

Former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping believes he has a greater understanding of Rose Namajunas‘ performance against Carla Esparza having witnessed her recent grappling defeat.

While she hasn’t competed inside the cage since a surprise result at UFC 274 last May provided a sudden end to her second reign on the strawweight throne, Namajunas did return to combat sports action prior to the new year.

Having previously announced her intention to figure in a grappling-only bout ahead of her next UFC appearance, “Thug Rose” got the chance to do so at the Fury Pro Grappling 6 event last week.

Unfortunately for Namajunas, her match against UFC peer Gillian Robertson didn’t go to plan, with “The Savage” submitting her in just 65 seconds via rear-naked choke.

While Robertson, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Din Thomas, has visible and impressive grappling credentials, the way in which she forced a tap from Namajunas opened the eyes of one fighter-turned-analyst regarding the former UFC champ’s deficiencies on the ground.

Bisping Sees Clarity In Namajunas’ Lackluster UFC 274 Display After Grappling Loss

During a recent episode of his Believe You Me podcast, Michael Bisping and co-host Anthony Smith assessed some of the action that went down on New Year’s weekend, including the grappling event that featured Rose Namajunas, Chase Hooper, Alex Caceres, and Joe Pyfer.

In regard to the headliner, which saw Namajunas succumb to a rapid finish, Bisping suggested that the manner of defeat for “Thug Rose” provides some context behind her gun-shy display against ground specialist Carla Esparza in 2022.

“Gillian Robertson tapping out Rose Namajunas in just 65 seconds… That there makes me understand why she was so timid, Namajunas, or played it so safe against Carla Esparza,” Bisping said. “Esparza tapped her out the first time, I believe, when they fought. Didn’t tap her out the second time, but you could see it was there, messing with her mentally.”

Namajunas entered last year off the back of consecutive victories over Zhang Weili, the first of which saw her crowned a two-time champ, while the second added a defense to her résumé.

But while she’d hoped to extend her reign by exacting revenge over Esparza for the 2014 submission loss she suffered, Namajunas fell on the wrong side of a split decision after a lackluster five rounds that had many branding it the worst title fight in UFC history.

While Namajunas has undoubtedly improved in all aspects since her first loss to “Cookie Monster,” Bisping believes her latest submission result provides an explanation for her lack of confidence on the ground when it comes to facing top grapplers.

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